The basic structure of U.S. higher education is based upon British undergraduate college and German Research University, but its character is profoundly influenced by three major philosophical beliefs that shape American public life. According to the Jeffersonian ideals of locally controlled government, the U.S. Constitution reserves for the states all government functions not specifically described as federal. Among those functions is education. As a result, each of the 50 states is responsible for governing public colleges and universities (which enroll 75 percent of students), rather than the federal government. The degree of control by the states varies tremendously. Some institutions, such as the University of California and the University of Michigan, enjoy constitutional autonomy as separate branches of state government. The second set of influences is capitalism, American colleges and universities vie for students, faculty, and funding under the assumption that diversity and high quality are best achieved through competition rather than centralized planning. The final major philosophical influence on American higher education is a widespread commitment to equal opportunity and social mobility among the masses.
Current U.S. Higher Education System
Though higher education has always been an elite activity in the past, excluding individuals based on gender, religion, race and social class, however, a major revolution in the area of education sector took place in the middle of the 20th-century, where economic and social changes transformed higher education into a primary gateway to the middle-class, women and minorities and made inroads against longstanding exclusion from mainstream higher education.
Americans came to view broad access to higher education as a necessary component of the nation’s development. Higher education responded by broadening access. Indeed, the one uniquely American type of institution—the community college was founded in the 20th century to ensure open access to higher education for individuals of all ages, preparation levels, and incomes. Guided by these beliefs, U.S. higher education reflects essential elements of the American character: independence, suspicion of government, ambition, inclusiveness, and competitiveness. The focus now shifts to the influence of the upcoming future generation, which is being guided by the U.S. higher education system on rest of the world. USA being one of the most affluent countries of the world needs to be a ‘Role Model’ for the rest of the world, as they are the one’s what a large part of humanity is aspiring for.
Responsibility of USA, as a Role Model in the Field of Higher Education
In the Holy Scripture Shrimad Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, who out of bewilderedness had kept his bow and arrow aside and decided not to fight the battle of righteousness in the midst of battle field. Lord Krishna says (Ch.3, vs-21), “Yad yad aacharati shreshthas tat tad evetaro janah; Sayat pramaanam kurute lokastad anuvartate.” i.e., “Whatsoever a great man does, that other men also do; Whatever he sets up as the standard that the world follows.”
U.S. being one of the most affluent countries, who leave a great impact on the rest of the world, it becomes their moral responsibility to set the correct guidelines for their fellow-men may it be technological development, socio-economic development or inculcating ethical values. They have always been a trend-setter in every walk of life, taking a trivial example of wearing knee-torn jeans which the rest of the world wants to admiringly follow, making it as a latest fashion-vogue.
“U.S. being one of the most affluent countries, who leave a great impact on the rest of the world, it becomes their moral responsibility to set the correct guidelines for their fellow-men may it be technological development, socio-economic development or inculcating ethical values”
Thus, U.S. should understand it’s incomparable role in establishing global peace and prosperity by incorporating true spirit of education, which according to the most profound spiritual leader Swami Vivekanada, lies in the enhancement of intellect in parallel with expansion of heart.
USA needs to include the moral and ethical values in the Higher Education System.
These moral and ethical values include knowledge with certain aim and objective, inclusion of spirituality in education, and honesty & responsibility.
Knowledge has two sharp edges, the misuse of knowledge leads to destruction, which is currently on peak, like development or invention of atomic/chemical weapons and USA is at upfront in it.
But precise use of knowledge can give a better world and being a leader USA impart that precise knowledge to rest of the world through its Higher Education System.
If the sense of spirituality is being added in the Higher Education System, it will improve the mental and physical health, social organization, enhance the growth and welfare, wisdom to recognize the correct, and clear thoughts.
The moral Values and ethics provide the sense of honesty and responsibility, which is very important to make all outcomes of education more effective.
USA has enough potential to influence the entire world in every aspect of life through its Higher Education System.
Dr. Gagan Singh, Professor and Head EECED
Dr. Gagan Singh received his Graduation Degree in Electrical Engineering, M.Tech (Engineering Systems) from Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Agra, India, and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Uttrakhand Technical University in 2011. He is currently working as Professor in Electrical Engineering Department, and Controller of Examination, DIT University, Dehradun, India, since March 2000.